MTG’s Phyrexian invasion culminates in March of the Machine’s launch

April 26, 2023

Last week, Wizards of the Coast launched the final instalment in their latest four-part Phyrexian storyline, March of the Machine, with a special public launch event at Fortress Melbourne. Local Planeswalkers in attendance were treated to a chill atmosphere with drinks, nibbles and a chance to get a jump on the latest set, to see how the new mechanics fared and mixed with their own decks. We were also invited to attend the event for a few rounds, to see how March of the Machine integrates its concept of a climactic conflict into gameplay.

The first mechanic we encountered, and the most representative of the invading Phyrexians, is the ‘Incubate’ mechanic. These are artefacts that are available in the form of special two-sided cards, that can be brought onto the battlefield, with a number of +1/+1 counters depending on the creature summoning them. One side depicts a hatching egg which can’t really do much, but Planeswalkers can spend two mana to flip these cards and turn them into formidable Phyrexian foes to add to their arsenal.

On the other hand, ‘Backup’ allows players to quickly strengthen their existing creatures, through introducing powerful new creatures to the battlefield. For instance, playing a creature like an angel warrior allows you to add a +1/+1 counter to any target creature of your choosing, as well as endow them with additional abilities like Flying or First Strike. If you play Backup effectively, it can be an easy way to make a fairly unstoppable force, that keeps your opponent on their toes as they have to adapt to your newly strengthened creatures.

Finally, there’s a new card type, known as ‘Battle’. These Battles are dual faced cards, meant to depict key conflicts in the Phyrexian war, and initially show landscape art. When played, a player must select an opponent to be the card’s protector, defending it from all other players’ efforts to defeat the Battle by wearing down its defense counters. Once this is accomplished, the card has an ability which is triggered, the controller exiles the Battle, then casts its back face from exile without paying any mana cost. The back faces are a range of powerful cards, from permanents to sorceries. It’s a little bit to get your head around, especially as this is the first new card type added to the game in over 15 years, but makes sense given the storyline which March of the Machine is trying to tell.

March of the Machine comes in five themes for its Commander decks – Phyrexian Cats, Zhalfir Knights, Shaman Creatures, Convoke Angels and Gremlin Artifacts. There are also five new Jumpstart booster themes – Brood, Overachiever, Expendable, Reinforcement and Buff. The set itself is available as Draft Boosters, Set Boosters, Collector Boosters, Jumpstart Boosters, Welcome Boosters, Commander decks, bundles and a Secret Lair release.

The event itself seemed to be quite popular with the local MTG community, with a full hall populating the Alienware Arena section of Fortress Melbourne, and plenty of fans eager to collect these new cards and see how they perform on the battlefield. Hopefully, the success of this event allows for more community events in Australia – so keep your eyes open for upcoming events as there’s even bigger releases on the horizon (Tales of Middle-Earth says hello!).